Bring a friend, because it’s time to conquer the 1990s arcades – again! I mean, yeah, Clockwork Aquario launched last year on Switch and PlayStation 4, and will be arriving on Steam and Xbox this year… but development did actually start the way back in 1992, as is evident by both art style and gameplay. Has it been worth the wait?
Well, according to Nintendo Life, definitely, and since I have yet to experience this blast from the past myself, that’s just about the best answer I can provide. I will say this, however: Clockwork Aquario looks like an absolutely gorgeous platformer, easily up there with the best pixel art creations (of which I am, unsurprisingly, a huge fan). Must have been quite the effort to bring this one to modern platforms, seeing how it was originally intended for 1990s arcade cabinets and all. Would it have garnered as much attention and success in 1992? Unlikely, as part of the reason for its cancelation prior to release back in the day was that quarter-munchers were moving well beyond 2D experiences, however beautiful and fun, and as such, there was next to no interest in something like this. Until now.
Originally designed by the chief publisher, and co-founder of Westone, Ryuichi Nishizawa, Clockwork Aquario can be described as the swan song of a company that was part of an era with historic milestones such as the Wonder Boy / Monster World series.
All that said, what’s the deal with Clockwork Aquario? What’s with those huge character sprites, odd hair colors, and super vibrant colors? Simply put, the 1990s. As someone who was in their teens back then, this is definitely a bit of a nostalgia trip, traveling back to the days of Rainbow Islands, Joe & Mac, Metal Slug, and of course, Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Good times. Really good times. Some, like Clockwork Aquario, even had 2-player co-op, although in this title that does mean… one character gets left behind: either Huck Londo, Elle Moon, or Gush will get zero screen time. No platforming fun, tossing enemies like they’re basketballs, powering up (wait, what?) or engaging in massive boss battles for, well, whoever isn’t picked. Poor guy/girl/robot.
Then again, given the game’s apparently relatively short length and – unsurprisingly, arcade roots and all – emphasis on replayability, perhaps the odd duck (or robot) out might get a chance to shine next time? Something tells me the groovy mix of funky tunes, pick-up-and-play accessibility, vibrant visuals, and… oh, almost forgot to note how you can in fact pick up and throw the other player at enemies. Don’t ya just love co-op games with that feature? Might lead to a bit of chaos every now and then, but what’s wrong with that? Wouldn’t be a proper 1990s platformer without a bit of player-created mayhem, I’d say.
Clockwork Aquario is currently on Switch and PlayStation 4. Steam and Xbox ports will be arriving this summer.